The New Era of School Safety

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The New Era of School Safety

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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School shootings in the U.S. have become more prevalent in the news. Many schools, including those in GISD, have adopted more security measures as a result.

According to an article written by CNN in May 2018, there were 23 school shootings in the first 21 weeks of 2018, and the number has risen since. This has led many schools to invest in more security. According to an analysis by IHS Markit, a global information provider, following the Parkland shooting, the school security market surged to about $2.7 billion a year. New policies are being set in place as well following the increase in school shootings.

“During the summer, professional staff met for professional development,” Principal Glenda Williams said. “One part of that PD revolved around school culture and climate. As a campus, we believe that being proactive, setting procedures in place, will help minimize disruptive behaviors and conflicts, thus increasing student success both socially and academically.”

GISD created an informational video this school year that was shown to students on the first day of school to remind them of the old and new safety and security procedures set in place, and North intends to uphold these procedures.

“Most students in grades 10-12 already knew the basic procedures like walking on the right hand side of the hallway, voice levels and when to use them, campus quiet/attention sign (raising hand), etc.” Principal Williams said. “And although wearing an ID badge has always been a district requirement, it wasn’t until this year that NG really started to enforce this procedure. The enforcement of the ID badges was really a request from students after the Santa Fe shooting last spring.”

In May 2018, 10 people were killed in a school shooting that occurred at Santa Fe High school in Santa Fe, Texas. The shooter hid a shotgun underneath a long coat and opened fire on students and faculty.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 16 percent of high schools in the country require badges or picture IDs during the 2015-16 school year. Some ways that North Garland implements this procedure is by requiring students to have their ID in the hallways and when leaving the classroom.

“To get a hall pass, students are supposed to be wearing their ID,” Principal Williams said. “It is also strongly suggested that teachers have students leave their cell phones with the teacher while they are gone.”

This isn’t required by the district, but according to Principal Williams, the school has a few policies set in place that differ from others in the district. These include adding an additional step in the cell phone policy and the creation of a Foundations Team.

“It is a team of teachers that works with administration to identify areas of need and opportunities for growth for culture and climate,” Principal Williams said. “The foundations team acts as a liaison between faculty and administration. Foundations also helps to coordinate CHAMPS training, which is where the procedures originated.”

French teacher Claire Smith is one of the members of the Foundations Team and said that teachers are being encouraged to check for IDs more often.

“There aren’t rules in particular, but we have made a push among the teachers to check IDs more often, and like when you see students in the hall, make sure you’re asking them if they’re wearing their IDs and having student’s put on their IDs,” Smith said. “We’ve just been trying to get everybody on board with checking IDs more often.”

Despite the increase in security at schools across the country, there are still dangers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2015-16 school year, 79 percent of public schools said that one or more incidents of crime have taken place, which added up to 1.4 million crimes, even though 94 percent of public schools in the country reported having controlled access to the building by monitoring doors. Intruders are still finding ways to get inside the school, and the one thing that sets them apart from others in the building is identification.

“I think at this point it’s a matter of getting everybody on board and getting the students to buy into the fact that wearing their ID in the hall is important,” Smith said. “That it lets us know that you are a student, you’re supposed to be here, that you’re not a stranger from some place else, and that everybody consistently enforces that and pays attention to the fact that that’s important.”

Students’ safety on campus plays an important role in decision making and policies set in place. Principal Williams said that students should come prepared for school and reach out to a trusted adult if something is preventing that.

“We have a lot of resources at North to assist students who may have personal difficulties that interfere with their academic success,” Principal Williams said. “We can and want to help. Other than that, enjoy high school.”